Friday 19 May, 11.56am. In Bologna it’s raining. A sudden boom appears to herald one of those storms capable of sweeping away everything in its path. But this isn’t the rumble of thunder. It’s a bomb. And it’s just exploded in a school in Bologna. It’s the deadliest terrorist attack in Italian history. Or rather, it would have been but…the attack hasn’t yet taken place and the story actually begins on Thursday 18 May. The agents have twenty-four hours to go back and forth in time and prevent the tragedy.
One story, two versions. This sequential game gifts the reader with the greatest of freedoms: the choice of the order in which events take place. Here time dictates everything. Will time be linear and chronological as in a “Fabula” or jump forwards and backwards as it follows the protagonists’ movements in the twists and turns of an “Intreccio” plot style?
The two novels, which differ only in the order of the chapters and their covers, can be read in either way. At the end of each volume there are two indices, one relating to the book in question and one which reorganises the chapters in the order of the other version. While the chapters are identical, if they are read in the order of a “Fabula” the effect is of a fast-paced crime novel in which ever more mysterious questions and events lead to the eventual resolution of the enigma, and if they are read as an “Intreccio” the novel becomes a thriller where the reader is dragged towards the end of the mission with bated breath.
Morosinotto serves up an exercise in going beyond the motif of “temporal paradoxes”, taking them to another, meta-narrative, level. Storms leaves the reader with one big question: what really is the “right” sequence of history? And if every choice we make influences the future, could both versions perhaps be right?
by Davide Morosinotto